Perhaps sick of watching the lowly Royals cost him victories with poor support from the bullpen and lineup, Zack Greinke took matters into his own hands Sunday with a complete-game, one-hit shutout against the Mariners. Kenji Johjima’s second-inning single was the lone hit allowed by Greinke, who struck out five and walked one while lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.32.
Greinke ranks just fifth in the AL with 13 wins and has lost eight times despite giving up more than three earned runs only four times in 27 starts, but there’s no doubt that he’s been the league’s best pitcher. He leads the AL with a 2.32 ERA, six complete games, three shutouts, and a 1.08 WHIP while ranking behind only Justin Verlander with 202 strikeouts and second to only CC Sabathia with 190.1 innings.
If ever there was a time to ignore a pitcher’s win-loss record, this is it. Kansas City’s lineup ranks second-worst in the AL and Greinke has received less run support than any starter in the league. Beyond that the Royals’ bullpen ranks dead last in the AL with a 5.15 ERA and the team has gone just 37-66 when Greinke isn’t on the mound, which is a 104-loss pace. Don’t let his team’s awfulness mask his greatness.
While the Cy Young voters hopefully take notice of Greinke’s amazing year, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Chad Qualls has been solid as Arizona’s closer, posting a 3.63 ERA and 45/7 K/BB ratio in 52 innings, and converted his 24th save in 29 tries Sunday. Unfortunately it may be his final save of the year, as he suffered a dislocated kneecap while twisting to deflect a ground ball up the middle on the game’s last play. Qualls collapsed into a heap on the mound before the trainer popped his knee back into place. Not pretty.
He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Monday, at which point the Diamondbacks should know whether he’ll be able to pitch again this year. Jon Rauch had been the primary setup man in Arizona all season and would’ve been in line for saves, but the Diamondbacks dealt him to the Twins on Friday. Juan Gutierrez seems likely to get the nod despite being a rookie with a 4.29 ERA and 55/27 K/BB ratio in 57 innings.
* After taking three weeks to get his 38-year-old arm back into pitching shape, Paul Byrd made his Red Sox debut Sunday with six shutout innings against the Blue Jays. While he was using just 83 pitches to record 18 outs, Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled in a rehab start at Double-A, giving up five runs in two innings. Matsuzaka appeared on track to rejoin the rotation on September 9, but those plans may have changed.
* Jake Peavy’s eventual White Sox debut has been delayed further after he departed a minor-league rehab start over the weekend with elbow soreness. Peavy is on the disabled list because of an ankle injury, but his elbow became a bigger concern after he was hit by a line drive during a rehab outing last week. He lasted just 3.1 innings while trying to pitch through the discomfort and will be examined further Monday.
AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay lost Sunday for the sixth time in his last 10 starts … As planned, Joba Chamberlain was removed from Sunday’s start after just three innings and 35 pitches … Fresh off the disabled list, Akinori Iwamura went deep Sunday off Justin Verlander for his first homer in 155 at-bats … John Lackey allowed just an unearned run over eight innings Sunday, slicing his ERA below 4.00 … Brian Matusz turned in his first gem Sunday, striking out eight and walking one in seven innings of one-run ball … Mark Teixeira homered Sunday to become the first AL player to crack 100 RBIs … Ryan Rowland-Smith took a tough-luck loss Sunday, striking out seven in eight innings of three-run ball … Kendry Morales smacked his 10th homer of the month and 30th homer of the season Sunday … Jorge Posada returned to the lineup Sunday and plans to play through his finger injury.
NL Quick Hits: Adam Wainwright notched his MLB-best 16th victory with six innings of one-run ball Sunday … Edgar Renteria hit a go-winning grand slam Sunday as the Giants tied the Rockies for the Wild Card lead … Nelson Figueroa had a career-high 10 strikeouts Sunday, allowing just one run in seven innings … Troy Tulowitzki went 4-for-5 and matched a career-high with his 24th homer Sunday … Washington dealt Ronnie Belliard to Los Angeles for Single-A reliever Luis Garcia and a player to be named later … Randy Johnson (shoulder) has been playing catch from flat ground and could return in September as a reliever … Justin Upton homered Sunday and is now 9-for-20 with four extra-base hits since returning from the disabled list … Carlos Zambrano gave up 10 singles and a triple before being chased after just 3.1 innings Sunday … Garrett Jones homered again Sunday, giving the minor-league veteran 16 long balls in 51 games … Clayton Kershaw racked up 11 strikeouts in a no-decision Sunday, giving him 164 on the season.